Immunity for Condos from Covid-19 Liability
COVID-19 has changed our way of life in so many ways. Accordingly, new laws have been enacted to address the concerns and protect those affected by the pandemic and legal issues that stem from the fallout.
New Florida Law S.B. 72
A new bill, S.B. 72, was recently signed into law by the governor of Florida. It provides immunity to businesses so that plaintiffs may not bring forth lawsuits regarding COVID-19 injury and wrongful death claims.
What Does S.B. 72 Cover?
According to S.B. 72, a “COVID-19 related claim” pertains to any civil liability claim against a person, including a natural person, a business entity, an educational institution, a governmental entity, or a religious institution. The claim must arise from or be related to COVID-19 (also known as the novel coronavirus), and it applies to any lawsuit claiming damages, injury, or death.
Additionally, in an effort of public interest, the bill protects “certain business entities” so that they may continue to operate and contribute to the state as a whole. This relief applies to condominium associations as well.
How Does the Law Protect Business Entities?
The new law includes some very specific mandates for any COVID-19-related claims. The requirements include:
- The complaint must be pled with particularity.
- When the complaint is filed, the plaintiff must also submit an affidavit signed by a physician who is actively licensed within the state of Florida. In the affidavit, the physician must attest that it is their belief within a reasonable degree of medical certainty that the plaintiff’s COVID-19-related injury/illness or death occurred due to the defendant’s actions or omissions.
On the flip side, the business owner or defendant must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they put forth a substantial effort to comply with authoritative or controlling government-issued health standards and guidelines (the CDC/Presidential Administration) at the time that the event occurred. These things might include requiring masks to be worn, social distancing, and proper disinfection of equipment and premises.
The court will then decide. If the judge determines that the defendant made a reasonable effort, the business will be deemed immune from civil liability claims.
How Does the Law Affect Condo Associations?
Many condo boards have concerns about how the COVID-19 pandemic may affect lawsuits brought against them. However, most condo associations have followed the strict guidelines set forth by the CDC and government entities, including face coverings and social distancing. Therefore, if your condo association took the proper precautions, the condo board should enjoy the same immunity that any other type of business entity would.
If your condo board has any pending legal issues regarding COVID-19, or has questions about the new law, contact Haber Law today to discuss how best to proceed.
About the Author: Jonathan S. Goldstein concentrates his practice in the areas of condominium and Homeowners Association (HOA) law, commercial litigation, and construction litigation. Mr. Goldstein is Board Certified in the area of Condominium and Planned Development Law, a distinction bestowed upon a select group of attorneys recognized as being specialists in this practice area by the Florida Bar.